What frequency of marketing outreach works best?

Too much marketing prospecting—both to upsell present customers and acquire new ones—can be a huge turnoff. Marketers incessantly and blatantly promoting themselves on social media—versus offering helpful insights and information—can get annoying and become a “customer disservice.” Recipients of excessive email marketing may delete before ever viewing and/or unsubscribe once they see the sender. A TV commercial may get positive reviews when it first airs, then become a trigger to change the channel or mute the sound after seeing it too much.

Tech-driven data mining about individuals, and identifying the overall preferences of certain profile groups based on demographics and psychographics can go a long way toward hitting the sweet spot between being invisible and too visible. However, this is time-intensive and often expensive. What are some common-sense ways to address the issue initially, to be followed by more precise and in-depth analysis as time and budget permit?

  1. Factor both frequency and immediacy into the situation. Companies promoting a specific event or short-term product campaign (think latest smartphone) may warrant frequent outreach in a concentrated period of time. For example, if an event is occurring in three months, it’s generally appropriate to make contact every week or two (in some cases, even more often) to ramp up interest in, and awareness of, the event. Product promotion may be intense with daily saturation for a week or two. It’s a short-term push. In contrast, general image or sales marketing needs to be carefully considered before deploying. Weekly sales messages can wear out their welcome very quickly if they’re solely self-promotional and devoid of any helpful, how-to content. Monthly communications are typically a good default until/unless you get reliable feedback that dictates differently.
  2. Ramp up helpful, how-to tips. Consider replacing some/all blatant self-promotion with solid, helpful communications that give consumers something of value. This enhances your credibility and often provides an excellent sales follow-up platform—both in editorial and advertising forums. For example, digital publications targeting your audience often are looking for well-written articles that provide useful advice. These articles are typically devoid of self-promotion in the body of the article (unless the company is truly an integral part of a how-to solution). Authors generally get a byline and tag paragraph that identifies the company, what it does, and contact information. Once published, these can be dynamite, highly-credible marketing materials going forward. A less-credible but still potentially valuable how-to scenario can involve paid space featuring a helpful article. This type of “advertorial” doesn’t typically garner as much traction on the credibility meter as true editorial placements—but both can be an excellent complement to more salesy communications.
  3. Ask the audience what it wants. Part of the reason surveys are so popular—and rampant—is to give companies strong, empirical information about what people do and don’t like. Some form of survey/ request for feedback, whether scaled to mass audiences or small numbers, can provide excellent insight into everything from what will trigger purchases to what will drive people to a competitor. A key part of this survey/feedback request can address how often people want to be contacted and what they want to know about. Results will provide intel about preferences and problems. Drilling down to individual wants and needs can occur over time as budget and time permit. In the interim, at least you have a good chance to hit the sweet spot with the lion’s share of your audience.

The New Year offers a logical time for companies to review and regear customer service policies. This is the second in a continuing series about “hidden” customer service-oriented practices that may be helping or hurting your business.

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Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage,  Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm.

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